Review: Four Aunties and a Wedding

Review: Four Aunties and a Wedding

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Never the bride, always the photographer. Meddy Chan never imagined she would wed her college sweetheart. Instead, she hires another family-fun business, appearing like a dream. Everything is going fine until Meddy overhears them taking out a target at her wedding, and suddenly, she is forced to make sure another wedding doesn’t become a crime scene. Can the Chans save the day, or will this become a wedding no one will want to remember?

I was super excited to see what the Chans will get up to in this sequel; having enjoyed the first, deciding to speak so lowly of this was disappointing. 

The best part about Dial A for Aunties is getting to lean into the absurdity of it all. It’s so ridiculous, which is what made it so great to read. The Chan are endearing and fun. Four Aunties and a Wedding felt a lot more absurd, and while this isn’t a series where you should be caring about realism., the misadventures in here aren’t as marvellous as it was before. The humour is still the same, but the plot is just too similar, and none of the characters has grown since the events of Dial A. This is more of a personal ick, but the aunts doing strange British accents weren’t funny at all.  What made it less enjoyable was the fact it all takes place during the wedding, and no one seems to bat an eye that Meddy, the bride, is barely present. Nate really should’ve kicked up a bigger fuss. I think this would’ve been a lot more fun if the events occurred in the days going up to the wedding because having to witness what should be one of the best days in Meddy’s life go horrifically wrong did not feel fun at all. I’m surprised Sutanto managed to tie everything up in the end because it just sounds miserable. 

Overall, Four Aunties was fun, but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first. The plot is predictable without any redeeming elements and lacklustre development. If anything, this series is truly a test for anyone who wants to practise suspension of disbelief. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: Our Violent Ends

Review: Our Violent Ends

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

One monster is dead, and another threatens to push Shanghai into ruins as it balances on a tightrope. Juliette must protect her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir, even if it means working again with Roma to end a new monster in the city. As the city reaches a boiling point, with civil war right on their doorsteps, Roma and Juliette must find a way to work together or face losing everything they’ve ever known.

Our Violent Ends was a disappointing experience. We return to 1920s Shanghai with a much larger focus on the communists and nationalists as the Scarlet Gang and White Flowers struggle to control the city. These Violent Ends revolves around the monster that lurks with the conflict between the Nationalists and Communists is brewing in the background. Our Violent Ends does a complete switch, now the civil war is the main focus with the threat of a new monster lurking in the background. Both novels follow young Juliette and Roma trying to find the truth and help their people before the war breaks them apart.

Sadly, there is just not enough substance to carry this story, clocking at almost 500 pages. Our Violent Ends was dragging itself for no good reason. The progression between the last book and this one should’ve been a sign for me to stop before it got even worse. These Violent Delights ends on a thrilling cliffhanger, the return of a beast, the death of a friend that should spur the characters to keep moving, but the sequel starts after some time has passed and Gong info-dumps everything and moves on. And what she moves onto felt like nothing to me. 

Our Violent Ends was everything and nothing at the same time. Juliette is still on edge about Tyler taking her spot as the heir. I enjoyed Tyler as a villain, but at one point, I was rooting for him just to do the damn thing and take her spot because despite Juliette believing she should be the heir, she does nothing even to showcase that she deserves it. We are told she is badass, smart and deserves to be the heir, but it comes up empty for me. I was hoping Roma’s perspective would at least be interesting. He is, rightfully, upset about Juliette, thinking she is responsible for Marshall’s death. And when they’re forced to work together again, of course, he’s conflicted. I honestly could not bring myself to care about these two as lovers or friends, or enemies. 

A big issue with this duology overall is that it relies on withholding information as plot twists. If Gong wanted to pack a punch, there should’ve been more consequences to the actions of these characters, which is why this entire duology was so underwhelming to read.  A few moments came across as shocking, but I found that I could not care at all after the initial shock, and I realise that it just came out of nowhere.

If there was anything positive about this duology, everything is so interesting except for Juliette and Roma. Whenever the story shifts to follow Tyler, Benedikt, Marshall or Kathleen, it feels like I’m reading a completely different story. I enjoyed myself but then when we returned to our main couple; I just wanted to move on from them. I could not bring myself to feel invested in Roma and Juliette at all. 

Our Violent Ends was disappointing, to say the least.  I truly wanted the best for this duology, but I found it to be incredibly repetitive. As friends, enemies or lovers, Roma and Juliette’s relationship was utterly unsatisfying.  It is frustrating to see an exciting concept squandered, which left me dissatisfied with my reading experience. 


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Monthly Rewind: January 2022

Monthly Rewind: January 2022

A R T

Oh, hello! I’m introducing a new segment to the monthly rewind where I showcase any art + sketches I’ve made in the month. I find myself drawing a lot before my shift at work while having my coffee. (I basically rinse that £20 monthly sub from Pret) So there’s a lot of art. Some good, most bad. But I want to share the ones I liked the most.

B O O K S

I read 2 books this month! I’m still slowly making my way out of that reading slump that was caused by pandemic blues and general dissatisfaction with my life. I’ve slowly begun to make more time now to read and hopefully, I can stick to a routine that won’t cause me to burn out again.

Sisters of the Snake – I requested this arc last year and I’m glad I finally got to read it! It was a fun pick-me-up to get me back to reading. A great fun start to a fantasy series. Very quick to read as well. Read my review here!

Our Violent Ends – Another ARC that I sadly reglected. It was fun to see the conclusion of the duology. My thoughts on this are the same as it was with TVD. I was never really compelled to finished this story for Juliette or Roma because I actually found them rather boring. The side characters and background plot really carry the story. Chloe Gong writes in a way that makes the story digestable and quick to read. I’m actually very excited to read the spin-off because it follows one of the better (in my opinion) characters.

M U S I C

SURFACE PRESSURE | NUMB LITTLE BUG | SMILEY | DEVASTATION AND REDEMPTION | AKUMA NO KO

That’s it for this month! Tell me what went on in YOUR life this month! What sort of things was important for you this month? New obsessions? New TV shows? Or book? Any new song recs (I’m always open to new music!)? Best books you read this month?

Review: Sisters of the Snake

Review: Sisters of the Snake

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

The 100 Year Truce is soon approaching its end, and if Princess Rani wants any chance of inheriting her throne with no issues, she must escape her cage and delve into the deep magic of her past. Drafted into a war she wants no part in, trickster thief Ria must parade as her long-lost twin princess sister and discover the real reason why they were separated at birth. As the time ticks, both sisters must work together or risk letting magic tear everything apart. 

Rani and Ria have no idea the other exists until they accidentally meet after Ria hopes to use stolen jewellery to fund her escape from Abai. Instead, she is met with Rani, who shares her face and confusion. Desperate to figure out the truth behind her abandonment, she agrees to stay behind in Rani’s place. Ria is left to navigate palace life and see what else lies beneath the walls of her birthplace while also tricking her betrothed, Saeed, and family. At the same time, Rani embarks into the land beyond her city to discover the truth behind the brutal death of her old tutor, convincing Ria’s friend, Amir, and others that she is nothing but a lowly thief.

 A significant highlight of this book is the characters. I enjoyed watching Ria navigate the life of a princess in disgust while also rooting her to find the truth behind her birth. Rani is way out of her comfort zone as she is forced to question her entire upbringing while also dealing with dangerous magic that will threaten the world she knows. Each sister has a cast of characters that are equally important and extremely fun to discover. After a somewhat rocky start, the story redeems itself. It keeps you on edge as chapters alternate between the twins barreling through secrets of their past and nation’s history before coming together in a fast and thrilling resolution. 

Set in an Indian-inspired setting, the Nanua sisters do a great job of bringing to life the city of Abai, making a clear contract between the clean palace walls to the murky streets below. As the first in a series, Sisters of the Snake would’ve benefitted from more world-building, in my opinion. I see the immense potential to expand Rani and Ria’s story into the surrounding Kingdoms.

 If I had to point out a flaw of some kind, the connection between Rani and Ria deserved more screentime than relying on their connection as descendants of snakespeakers. The sweet moments of empowerment and sisterhood fall flat when you realise the girls barely interact in the story at all. For example, Rani is the one who pushes Ria to take her spot and then leaves her with no preparation or instructions. Rani has her pet snake (connected in the same way as a familiar), and it was such an odd decision to introduce Shima as a snake who can talk to Ria through her thoughts but then never have her help Ria at all during her time in the palace. It just read rather strange to me to introduce something that could be useful as a plot device but not utilise it in a way that would’ve improved the story. Especially as their connection as snakespeakers is very pivotal to the plot. 

Sisters of the Snake does exactly what it says on the tin. A YA fantasy with deep lore and a fascinating world design. It’s a solid start to a series, and I have to say I was surprisingly impressed by Sisters of the Snake. While my expectations weren’t low, I did find myself enjoying this series starter from the Nanua sisters. While nothing is out of the water, this is a decent start to a series that I’m very interested in seeing to completion.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: You Truly Assumed

Review: You Truly Assumed

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

After a terrorist attack near her home, Sabriya’s summer plans are thrown out the window. Instead, she turns to an online journal to express her feelings. You Truly Assumed (the blog)  becomes a hit as Muslim teens gather around the new community. Soon, Zakat and Farah join the team to help, but as their numbers rise, so makes the malicious comments. And the community they’ve worked so hard to build might just come tumbling down if they don’t speak up. 

You Truly Assumed is a story that had a lot of potential. And I feel like it almost hits the spot but fails to keep its momentum. Let’s start with the plot. Three girls, Bri, Zakat and Farah. Bri is a ballet dancer whose summer auditions are cut short after a terrorist attack makes her hometown standstill. Her sister encourages her to put her pen to a digital paper and sets up an online blog to discuss her thoughts privately, or so she thought. Instead of auditions, she’s helping the terror attack victims while YTA thrives.  She recruits Farah, who is currently spending the summer with her estranged father and joins the team to help run the tech side of the blog. Zakat’s artistic flair brings a new image to the blog; however, her family aren’t supportive of her future in art. When Bri notices an influx of hate comments, a physical threat almost tears them down, and they have to figure out how to control it or risk shutting the site down. 

You Truly Assumed thrives in concept. I adored the idea of three young women using the blog to tell their stories, creating a community where they can discuss what they want on their terms. It also highlights the voice and individual levels of three young Black Muslim girls. I really enjoyed seeing the diversity in their lives and how Sabreen explores the different ways a person can experience Islamaphobia and racism. 

My main issue with You Truly Assumed is that while the plot is engaging, the writing simply isn’t. It felt weird reading the story of Sabriya, Zakat and Farah because it reads like three stories forced into one book. It’s one big book telling the readers what happens and not an ounce of showing. We are told their blog is thriving, yet we only see three, maybe four, posts within the book. If I can recall correctly, only two of them were actually blogging content.  We are told these girls have become close friends, but their conversations are limiting and most of their development happen off-page. This entire book hinges on the emotional connection between these girls, but the emotion isn’t there, so readers are left just to watch it all happen. 

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. The heart of the story is so there and close within our reach. It feels like a story incomplete, and it was exhausting to read, mainly because I was imagining what the book could’ve been. 

GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Storms have ruined Mina’s homeland for generations. Her people believe that once the Sea God has found his true bride, he will end his people’s suffering. Shim Cheong is fated to be the true bride, but doing so means leaving Mina’s brother forever. So on the night, Cheong must be sacrificed, Mina and her brother break the rules and follow her to her fate. Desperate to save her brother and her friend, she throws herself into the water instead. Stranded in the Spirit Realm, Mina finds the Sea God trapped in an endless sleep and to wake him; she must face every lesser god and beast who wishes to keep him asleep.

I’ll be honest; the story starts in not the strongest footing for my taste. Mina is already boarding the ship destined for Shim Cheong’s demise, and her sacrifice is made so quickly it feels like we almost miss the moment. Her descent into the spirit realm is fast, and in moments, we’ve already made it halfway through the book’s own synopsis. I have been highly anticipating this book, so I was apprehensive it would go downhill from there. 

I can gladly say I was very wrong. Once in the Spirit Realm, Mina really takes off. With time ticking, she must figure out how to wake the Sea God and return her homeland to prosperity only a month before she is stuck forever. And the only person who can give her any information is the mysterious god named Shin and his rogue men, Kirin and Namgi. She is also momentarily accompanied by other spirits who you will love and mourn all the same. 

The crumbs Axie Oh drops in the story slowly come together in the most heartbreaking way. The world-building is in the same vein as Ghibli movies, whimsical and childlike. Mina is strong and compassionate who continues to grow in each chapter. It’s kind of a shame this is standalone because the potential to delve into other folklore through the Spirit Realm is vast. If anything, the only remotely disappointing aspect was that the romance could’ve been developed a lot more in the beginning. Still, towards the end, I was rooting for Mina’s happiness like my life depended on it. 

Spirited Away meets Korean folklore in this standout retelling from Axie Oh. A world of gods and beasts can’t compare to softspoken Mina, who steals the show in her honourable journey to save her homeland.  


GOODREADS | AMAZON | AUTHOR